Welcome to another edition of the CEO’s Corner, I hope you had an opportunity to read my fourth post “Change is inevitable” which was written last month. As you know these pieces are written in the early hours of the morning with a cup of Joe and not enough caffeine stimuli, therefore please be gentle when reading them.
As this will be my final post for 2019, I will be doing things slightly different during this blog which will include providing you some GAST inside info, reflection on the past year and looking ahead to 2020.
As a majority family owned business (to a sense) we operate like a corporate entity but we have significant family values instilled in the day to day operations of GAST. We have fights like a family, we celebrate like a family but most importantly, we care like a family. No matter how murky our water gets or how crystal clear it becomes, internally we are one big family and we really care about each other and the needs of our customers. Sometimes we drop the ball but in the bigger picture 8/10 times we tend to get it right, not always but most.
The bedrock and cornerstone of any successful business starts and ends with it’s employees, it’s dedication, humility and care towards it’s’ customers. If we care about each other and the customer, you tend to get the winning recipe, don’t and it becomes a slippery slope to the end of the rope.
Current and past employees of GAST will always confirm and say irrespective that, while working at GAST they at least had a sense of belonging somewhere, a place they can call home, even if that home is not always the perfect home. Why? Well not all organisations are perfect, most just keep the lid on internal politics and the PR version is portrayed to the outside world. GAST has it’s internal politics like any company, but I tend to believe and based on our own internal measurements we operate at a higher employee & customer satisfaction level than most.
When dealing with GAST you can always rest assured you will get our truthful, open and honest answers, dealing in facts is so much simpler than dealing in fiction. We are the ever optimists and no challenge or problem is too big for anyone in GAST. We always try and make a plan and if we can’t solve it, we will find someone who can!
GAST’s staff compliment is growing each month as we expand to new territories and take on new exciting technologies or business ventures. We are experiencing and seeing a distressed market, with limited and lackluster government infrastructure expenditure and prevailing economical challenges. Circumnavigating through this minefield at the moment is one of our largest challenges albeit limited to certain of our industries and not all.
All GAST staff have signed a pledge to our customers to illustrate our undying commitment to the people who ensure we are still here, our customer. We are thankful each day and humble to see that without the support and trust of our customers we would not be where we are. We thank you for supporting GAST, we thank you for trusting us and allowing us the opportunities to find solutions to your problems.
Normally when you are in something you tend to only see that “something” that you are in and you struggle to see the bigger picture. We zoom in and only focus on that 1 problem, 1 solution, 1 objective that we tend to lose track of what is happening around us. Business is a fickle beast that needs both micro- & macro management and leadership, I honestly believe not 1 is greater than the other.
Reflecting back on 2019, I’ve personally learnt to delegate more and focus on the vision instead of all the finer details which should be obvious to most CEO’s, however there is also something like too much delegation. It’s finding the right people, the right mix of people and trusting them to do what is needed, yes ensuring some of those finer details are achieved as well but the vision should be there.
GAST in 2019 has moved forward in building internal trust amongst our teams, staff and management. Trust between our customer base and our suppliers/service providers. GAST is stable, it’s ever enduring not solely because of effective policies/procedures but through sheer determination and honest care. We have learnt to care again, care for each other, care for our customers.
Every year we have all the GAST employees for 1 week together at Head Office to plan & strategise our year ahead. We also select 1 word at the beginning of the year that we want to focus on, for instance in 2018 the word was “Professionalism” and our word for 2019 was “Effective”. You see you can be efficient but how effective was that efficiency. Our Chief of Staff used a great analogy where she said something in the line of “….you can purchase a top of the line, most efficient washing machine, that uses the least amount of soap, least amount of energy, it’s super silent, extremely efficient. However if it doesn’t clean your clothes properly then surely it’s not as effective as it should be, what benefit does efficiency have without effectiveness. “
So our 2019 word was “Effective”, we needed to concentrate on being more effective in delivering valuable final products and services. I believe we achieved that in 2019, with our digitisation drive, not only have we become more efficient but effective. It has taken a considerable amount of investment not only financially but valuable time as well. I believe we are now starting to see the fruits of our labours to which our objectives of the beginning of the year have almost all been achieved.
A long distance boat sail is never smooth, you always have choppy waters somewhere along the line, and our journey is no different. It is how you handle those choppy waters that determine your success or failure. Statistically speaking, GAST is fortunate to experience a clean bill of health with all graphs climbing steadily. In reflection of 2019, we have achieved a tremendous amount of good in the last 12 months, there is still much to be done and the year is not even over yet.
We want to thank you, our Customer, our Supplier/Service provider for the last 12 months. We really do value our relationships and we really care about you! Thank you again!
I first want to state that our 2020 vision is one without ego, without preconceived ideas or fixed viewpoints, it will be a year where we must learn as much as what we teach in business, our products or services. If I can ask that if you have an idea, viewpoint, perception of GAST, something that you might have experienced in the past, good or bad, please approach us again and let us show you who we are today. Let us convince you to use GAST for your future projects not by telling you we are the best in the business but let us show you rather.
Looking ahead of what 2020 holds for GAST, we are in the final stages of establishing full operational status facilities in North America, UAE & Cyprus which will offer selected range of our products and/or services. We are also in the planning stage to upgrade our waterproofing/paint manufacturing facility in South Africa to increase production volumes. More so we are in planning stages to upgrade our waterproofing/paint laboratory in South Africa before end of 2020.
2020 will also see the start of various new exciting and large projects that GAST secured during Q3/4 of 2019 across all our divisions.
GAST also launched its’ new GAST 360° Service offering to all our corporate clients providing them a cost effective waterproofing solution to all their buildings. You need waterproofing on your shopping malls but don’t want to spend large amounts of CAPEX to replace them? Well that’s what the GAST 360° service is, we ensure you have a watertight solution for a number of years and you only pay a small nominal fee per month. In return you receive a full 360° solution for your entire building/s water problems. GAST finances everything which ensures that you protect your cash-flow, rather spend our money ? and protect your cashflow. Since the launch of GAST 360° we have seen almost an unprecedented interest with numerous listed funds joining the initiative.
“Talk to us, we know we can save you money and time.”
Lastly, as we do every year we attempt to 2X our business, in other words if we generated $100mil in revenue in year 1, we want to achieve $200mil in year 2, same goes for profit and customer satisfaction levels. 2020 Will be no different, we have some large objectives and goals for 2020 and we are determined to reach them, never to the detriment of our customers, suppliers or service providers I must mention.
Quality of our products and workmanship is one of our top no debate items. You are only as good as your last project, something we remind ourselves of everyday. If you ever feel that we did not live up to that promise please send us an email to email@example.com
I think I have mentioned this a few times in this blog, however I would like to elaborate a bit more on “Exterior Viewpoint”.
We all suffer from the same symptoms may it be at home, school or work, we get fixated on an idea or viewpoint and we will normally fight to the death to prove our point. I remember when I used to be in high school, I was a real trouble maker and a constant rebel which hated conventional authority and I was headstrong in my opinion and viewpoints. I believe there are times when you need to have this headstrong single viewpoint, but you need to be able to extrapolate yourself from that viewpoint and look at it from an exterior perspective. Looking back in from outside is probably another way of explaining it.
You cannot go through life with a single viewpoint and an ego fueling that viewpoint, fighting to ensure that you are right and everyone else around you is wrong. That is a trap!
You will fall and fall hard. You must be able to honestly look back in and honestly assess if your viewpoint is the correct one, if not you have the full right to change it, however if it is right and you are confident in your viewpoint you need to fight to the death for it. People can be very nasty sometimes and do and say very bad things, you can suffer from that, but something no one can ever take away from you is your honour and your confidence.
Fortunately you are the only one that has control over your honour and confidence.
The next time you find yourself disagreeing with someone, or in an argument, remove yourself from that viewpoint and look back in objectively, from an exterior viewpoint. See if you still agree with your original viewpoint or have you changed your viewpoint? This makes a tremendous difference in handling any situation allowing you the ability to see things from various perspectives, which inevitably will improve your capabilities to formulate better strategies.
“The key elements of an effective strategy is the ability to see 10 moves ahead, you are only able to see 10 moves ahead if you can change your viewpoint on the fly.”
Fear is normally the biggest threat to changing your viewpoint, what if people realise you were wrong? What if people realise you are not as clever as you thought you were? Scary I know!
Never fear anything, fear is the tool that cripples us without it actually ever existing. You have nothing to fear, you have everything to gain.
Change your viewpoint as many times as you like, look in from the outside and see a whole new world with an exterior viewpoint.
In closing I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the GAST staff worldwide for all their hard work, dedication and truly caring about GAST and its customers. GAST is and always will be a home for everyone, we work hard as a team and we play even harder as a family. Thank you again and wishing all our customers a Happy Festive Season & Prosperous New Year.
CEO – GAST GROUP